Album Review – Skognatt / Ancient Wisdom (2018)

An onrush of Atmospheric Black Metal as raw, aggressive, melodic and obscure as it can be, from the undergrounds of Bavaria directly into your mind.

Hailing from Augsburg, one of Germany’s oldest cities and the third-largest city in Bavaria (after Munich and Nuremberg), here comes a very sinister and interesting Atmospheric Black Metal/Dark Ambient one-man project named Skognatt, who have just unleashed darkness upon humanity with its first full-length album Ancient Wisdom. After its inception in 2016 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Danijel Zambo, Skognatt released the demo Landscape of Ice in 2016, followed by the EP Stargazer that same year, and another EP in 2017 titled Ancient Wisdom (with the same name as the new album, but only featuring two songs that would be part of it). With the help of guest multi-instrumentalist Gerileme (Asche der Welten, Osteon) on drums and drum engineering, Skognatt brings forth six otherworldly compositions in Ancient Wisdom, living up to the legacy of old school Black Metal but with an atmospheric and eccentric twist added to its already somber musicality.

Macabre and phantasmagoric from the very beginning, the title-track Ancient Wisdom brings forward acoustic guitars intertwined with the sinister, demonic gnarls by Danijel, flowing smoothly and darkly until its ending, all boosted by creepy keyboard notes. Then the steady drumming by Gerileme and the lugubrious guitars by Danijel set the pace in Xibalbá, an Atmospheric Black Metal tune with hints of Symphonic Black Metal and Middle-Eastern nuances, with the vocals by Danijel sounding more devilish and anguished than before; followed by World Apart, showcasing blast beats and flammable guitar riffs (and therefore leaning towards traditional Black Metal), but also bringing a touch of delicacy and melancholy to the overall musicality through its very melodic and sometimes acoustic background sounds and tones.

More obscure than its predecessors, Thanatos alternates between melancholic, serene passages and more aggressive moments led by the piercing growls by Danijel, resulting in a Stygian hymn that can be used as the soundtrack to your deepest nightmares. As a matter of fact, Thanatos was the personification of death in Greek mythology, just to give you a sense of how dark this song is. Moving on with the album, Dark Star presents a movie-inspired intro before an explosion of demonic sounds fills the air, with Gerileme sounding even more infernal on drums in a hybrid of contemporary Ambient and Experimental Black Metal. Put differently, it can’t get any more underground, visceral and crude than this, being definitely not recommended for the lighthearted. And closing this somber and eccentric album we have another blast of Atmospheric Black Metal titled Fallen, spiced up by peculiar and whimsical sounds and featuring spoken words taken from the work of English nobleman and poet Lord Byron (1788 – 1824). Furthermore, Danijel does a great job both on keyboards and on vocals, enhancing the song’s already distinct taste until the music fades into a mesmerizing semi-acoustic outro.

In summary, Ancient Wisdom (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) is one of those albums of extreme music that perfectly represent what underground metal is all about, being raw, aggressive, melodic and obscure, all at the same time. And in order to show your true support to an independent act like Skognatt, you can pay a visit to the band’s official Facebook page, and of course buy your copy of Ancient Wisdom from its BandCamp page, keeping the fires of Black Metal burning inside the dark soul of Mr. Danijel Zambo and his devilish alter ego Skognatt for years and years to come.

Best moments of the album: Xibalbá and Thanatos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Ancient Wisdom 5:17
2. Xibalbá 5:09
3. World Apart 5:19
4. Thanatos 4:06
5. Dark Star 4:50
6. Fallen + Outro 6:44

Band members
Danijel Zambo – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Gerileme – drums

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Album Review – Gespenst / Forfald (2016)

Four lengthy, atmospheric and lugubrious tracks not recommended for the lighthearted, thoroughly crafted by a brand new Danish Black Metal act that will mercilessly disturb your peace of mind.

Rating5

gespenst-forfald-cover-artHailing from Aarhus, the second-largest city in Denmark located around 190 kilometers northwest of the capital Copenhagen, Black Metal act Gespenst (translated to English as “phantom”) is a fresh and uproarious new project featuring former members of Glorior Belli, Woebegone Obscured and Horned Almighty, among other bands, who together bring forth an atmospheric and ominous fusion of Scandinavian Black Metal with Funeral Doom, adding touches of Dark Ambient to their already eccentric extreme music. And the result of that devilish amalgamation, their debut full-length album entitled Forfald, will definitely disturb your peace of mind.

Forfald is the Danish word for “decay”, and that’s quite the sensation you’ll feel while listening to the album’s four lengthy and disturbing tracks. Listening to Forfald is like witnessing the ruin of mankind, descending into an abyss of anguish and darkness to the sound of the lugubrious music engendered by Gespenst. In its almost 40 minutes of duration, Forfald doesn’t provide any single second of tranquility or happiness, always extracting the deepest fears and most obscure thoughts from the listener. Another important piece of the music by Gespenst is the fact that some of their songs are entirely sung in Danish, a bold move that adds an extra layer of mystery and rawness to their music, enhancing the experience of listening to such somber album.

The blackened guitar lines by guitarist and keyboardist Genfærd kick off the demonic hymn Sorgens Taage, which would translate as “sorrow fog” in English, bursting agony and hatred while lead singer and bassist Galskab fires his devilish growls, increasing the obscurity of such an atmospheric and epic composition. This 9-minute aria brings forward somber Atmospheric Black Metal with hints of Funeral Doom and a sensational darkened vibe, with all the changes in rhythm, ferocity and melody adding an extra taste to it, with the doomed ending led by the sluggish beats by guest drummer Andreas Joen piercing your heart mercilessly. Even slower and more tenebrous, Revelation of Maggots offers the listener old school disquieting Funeral Doom, with highlights to the disturbing lyrics grasped by Galskab (“A sea of worms, in crawling pace / All over me, consumes my face / But I still see, without my eyes / As maggots feast, and hatch to flies”). Furthermore, Genfærd makes sure his guitar emanates grief and harasses the listener’s mind, and despite a few breaks a melancholic rhythm is maintained throughout this damned creation by Gespenst, with yet again a sepulchral ending, this time enhanced by a somber narration and anguished screams in the background.

gespenst-photoMin Sjæl Raadner (Danish for “my rotten soul” or “my soul rots”), the shortest of all tracks, presents an atmospheric and sinister beginning before the band attacks us with their dynamic blend of Black and Doom Metal, where the guitar riffs once again sound dark and harmonious, consequently dragging us to the Stygian world of Gespenst. Put differently, this is a song that can easily become a funeral hymn for lovers of extreme music. And in Life Drained to the Black Abyss we’re treated to 12 minutes of sheer darkness, with a horror movie-inspired intro progressively growing into beautiful Funeral Doom with the beats by Andreas getting sharper than before, feeling like a storm is about to begin in the background while Galskab spews the song’s lyrics about the derangement of the human mind (“My eyes have been eternally fixed / At the spectrum of darkness / A blackened stream of despair / It seems I have always been here”). In addition, when the musicality gets heavier, leaning towards classic Black Metal, it’s time for Genfærd to take the lead and guide the band’s demonic performance, haunting our perverted souls until the song’s obscure conclusion.

In summary, this is another of those albums not recommended for the average listener due to its disturbing level of agony and pain, but if you love that extremely dark side of music I can guarantee Forfald has a lot to offer you. You can take a listen at the entire album HERE, and go check Gespenst’s Facebook page for more details on the band’s current and future plans. And if you want to purchase Forfald, you can do so by visiting the band’s BandCamp page, the Hellthrasher Productions’ webstore and BandCamp page, or the Duplicate Records’ webstore and BandCamp page. This Danish Black Metal group has all it takes to take the underworld of extreme music by storm, with Forfald representing exactly what they are capable of with their instruments in their hands and a lot of darkness in their hearts.

Best moments of the album: Min Sjæl Raadner.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Hellthrasher Productions / Duplicate Records

Track listing
1. Sorgens Taage 9:04
2. Revelation of Maggots 10:54
3. Min Sjæl Raadner 7:17
4. Life Drained to the Black Abyss 12:14

Band members
Galskab – vocals, bass
Genfærd – guitar, synths

Guest musician
Andreas Joen – drums 

Live musicians
Christian Søgaard – guitar
Andreas Tagmose – bass
Mads Mortensen – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Terra Teratos

terra01

Hic et ubique odor mortis… Hic jacet Aeternitas est.

Very few women in the world of heavy music are as reserved, taciturn and mysterious as our metal chick this month. Dark and visionary, the idiosyncratic Russian musician/artist Katerina Khoroshiltseva, best known as Terra Teratos, has been playing a very important role (even if she doesn’t want to or doesn’t like the idea) in the obscure and sexist realm of Extreme Metal. She has been breaking many barriers and paradigms with her powerful music through the years, no matter which band or project she’s involved with, becoming an inspiration for many other women that are starting their careers in Black Metal and an icon for admirers of the darkest side of music.

In regards to her personal life, Terra Teratos is so reclusive to the point that there isn’t much information available about her likes and dislikes, personal background or any other intimate details. For instance, except for her Google+ profileYouTube channel, BandCamp and SoundCloud page, where she publishes selected songs from all her different projects and bands, she’s not present in any of the major social medias such as Facebook and Twitter, keeping her life private even if that means restraining the reach of her work as an artist. Well, at least for me it looks like that’s her goal anyway, remaining as underground as possible and far away from any commercial labels.

Apart from her real name, all we know about Terra Teratos is that she comes from the city of Voronezh, Russia, about 540km south of the Russian capital Moscow and 300km from the border of Ukraine. And that’s it, everything else revolves around her music, her projects and her vision of the world we live in. With that said, let’s focus on each one of her main bands/projects at a time (Terra Teratos and Furva Ambiguitas), and then provide some extra details about her inspirations, experiences and creative process as a musician, as well as her opinion about different topics related to music and life in general.

Perhaps the one-woman project Terra Teratos is the most interesting or distinct work of her career, not only because she’s responsible for all instruments and vocals, but mainly due to the origins and essence of the music crafted. Terra Teratos is an Experimental/Dark Ambient Black Metal project originated in 2006, stemming from the unification of several other individual projects including Teratos (Avant-garde piano music), Mertvye Pesni (only vocals, medieval folk and funeral rituals), Goetia (Dark Ambient), Rokot Voln (Black Ambient), Tierdrama (Black Metal), N.O.V.A.R.A. (Cyber Black Metal), Chaos (Ambient/Psychedelic Noise) and Tern (Symphonic Ambient), all considered a preparation for what the whole project is today. The music, as you can imagine, is an extremely complex and experimental mix of Black, Funeral and Doom Metal, enriched by symphonic elements, eerie noises and a dark atmosphere. To date, the following albums have been released by Terra Teratos: the demo Asphodel (2006), the EP Never (2007), the full-length “trilogy” Meditations About Secret of My Dark Destiny Part 1 (2007), Meditations About Secret of My Dark Destiny Part Zero (2009) and Meditations About Secret of My Dark Destiny Part 2 (2010), and more recently the EP Ambrosia (2013). In order to feel what Terra Teratos is all about, you should take a good listen at songs such as Evil, My Evil and III, or go to her official BandCamp page for more obscurity in the form of music.

Regarding Depressive Black/Funeral Doom Metal project Furva Ambiguitas (also known as FAAS), which started in 2007 as Terra Teratos’ own idea and is Latin for “obscure ambiguity”, she is responsible for all vocals, keyboards, programming and lyrics, while Russian musician Anton Mrak is responsible for all stringed instruments. The duo has released so far the following odes to occultism and mysticism: the demo At the Bottom of the River (2007), and the full-length albums In Articulo Mortis (2009) and Sacer (2012). There are several interesting songs from that project, as for example Invocation to Hecate, Abyssus Abyssum Invocat, Primus Inter Pares and Debitum, among other dark compositions.

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Besides those two main projects, Terra Teratos is also involved with Black Metal band Terribilis, which you can check by listening to the songs Чтобы Потухли Глаза…На Заклание к Черту! and Баллада (Пять коней), as well as other past bands and guest appearances like Goetia, Lethargia (under the curious name of PanTera or Pantera), Rokot Voln, Tierdrama, Мертвые Песни, Н.О.В.А.Р.А., Rainwill, Absenthe, Burelom, Dregva and Humanizer. I don’t know about you, but for me that more than proves this Russian woman lives for obscure music.

And all that obscurity has a huge influence in the way she sees music and life in general, keeping a good distance from any cliché or pedestrian art. For instance, Terra Teratos believes a band’s name should match with what the listener is expecting, in other words, it should reflect the band’s harmony or the author’s personality, otherwise it’s completely meaningless and hollow. In addition, she also believes that there’s no way any digital source can replace a live analog sound, and as much as you try to imitate it you’ll never get its true identity,. Also, she said there’s no specific scene where her music can fit in, as she stays away from any competitiveness in the world of art. With that said, I guess we can say her music is truly unique and biotic, different from most bands and artists we know and perfectly representing her view of the world, her dreams, reflections and internal needs, becoming more and more organic through time.

Her definition of Black Metal is also very peculiar and totally in line with her ideas and beliefs, as she sees it as a musical and poetic demonstration of the Death cult. In her own words, “the sense of existence of this genre is beyond a pure art. As Hermann Hesse put this in his ‘Demian’, ‘The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world.’ A genuine transformation demands a never-ending staying in the bifurcation points which replace each other. That also caused praising of Darkness, Evil, Chaos, War, total correlation with an archetype of the Devil, immersion into the images being the most frightening for an ordinary person – that is, everything, for what we honor the real Black Metal so much, and what the Black Metal really is…” Don’t worry if you don’t understand it at first, what really matters in this case is that Terra Teratos proves through her words how Black Metal is more than just a music genre in her life.

Lastly, when questioned about the future of Terra Teratos, she mentioned the project exists without any time frames, without any objectives being set or plans being made. As long as there’s still something arising, Terra Teratos will exist. And we all hope that’s the case for many years to come.

Terra Teratos’ Official Website
Furva Ambiguitas’ Official Website

“Black Metal for me is a musical and poetic demonstration of the Death cult. It is necessary to understand that it is not so much about literal perception of the Death, but the Death as a symbol of total transformation, a transgressive act of coming to an essentially other level, a ruthless separator in all its aspects.” – Terra Teratos